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Paid sick leave signed into Philadelphia law

Mayor Nutter signed mandatory paid sick leave into law Thursday, the same day City Council passed the legislation before a crowd of cheering workers.

"The people who do not have paid sick leave are the people who need it the most," said Councilman William K. Greenlee, the bill's sponsor. "They're low-income workers, single mothers; they're college students or people just starting in the workforce."

In 90 days, businesses with 10 or more employees will be required to give workers at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Greenlee says the bill will benefit up to 200,000 Philadelphians.

The law was seven years in the making. When Greenlee started the push in 2008, Philadelphia was one of the first cities to consider such a measure. Now 16 cities and three states have similar laws, and President Obama is calling on Congress to pass federal sick-leave legislation.

"The hardworking men and women of our city really can't wait another day, another week, another month to have paid sick leave," Nutter said at the signing ceremony.

Asked if he regretted vetoing similar legislation in 2011 and 2013, Nutter said he never opposed sick leave but could not support the measure during the economic recession.

Councilmen David Oh and Brian J. O'Neill, two of Council's three Republicans, were the only members to vote against the measure.

The business community - the hospitality industry, in particular - had lobbied against the bill, saying it could dissuade companies from moving to Philadelphia or current ones from expanding.

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce initially asked that the employee threshold be set at 50, then lowered that request to 15.

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